New Law School Jobs Data Indicate Flat Entry-Level Legal Market

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – LST has made class of 2013 job outcome data available for 200 ABA-approved law schools on LSTScoreReports.com. The LST Score Reports help students make smarter application and enrollment choices using admissions, employment, and cost information.

LST’s analysis of class of 2013 data collected by the American Bar Association sheds considerable light on how difficult the job market remains for law school graduates. These graduates fared 0.8% better than last year’s graduates on the key lawyer jobs statistic: 57.0% of 2013 graduates were employed in full-time, long-term legal jobs. Exclude jobs funded by the law schools from this figure and it is 55.3%—just a 0.2% improvement from the class of 2012.

A devastating 26.8% were either underemployed (short-term or part-time or non-professional jobs) or not employed (unemployed or pursuing an additional degree). Unemployment is up to 13.7% from 13.2%, while underemployment is down to 11.4% from 12.5%.

Full-time, Long-Term Legal Jobs:

The national full-time, long-term legal rate is 57.0%.

  • By definition these jobs:
    • require bar passage or are judicial clerkships; and
    • require 35+ hours per week and have an expected duration of at least one year.
  • At 64 law schools (31.8%), 50% of graduates or less had these legal jobs.
    • 33 schools (16.4%) had 40% or less;
    • 13 schools (6.5%) had 33% or less.
  • 103 schools (51.2%) exceeded the national rate of 57.0%.
    • 51 schools (25.4%) had 66% or more;
    • 21 schools (10.4%) had 75% or more;
    • 5 schools (2.5%) had 90% or more.

The national full-time, long-term legal rate, excluding jobs funded by law schools, is 55.3%.

  • The richest schools were able to hire their struggling graduates full time and long term; only 18 schools (9.0%) paid 5.0% or more of their graduates for long-term, full-time jobs that required bar passage.
    • 50% of these schools (9) were in the top 20 on the full-time, long-term rate without the benefit of the school-funded jobs; including school-funded jobs in the rate puts 67% of those schools (12) in the top 20.
    • Excluding school-funded jobs from the full-time, long-term legal rate caused all 5 schools over 90% to drop below that threshold.
  • Although the absolute number of full-time, long-term legal jobs funded by schools was relatively small (775, 2.0% of all employed graduates), there were 50% more of these jobs this year compared to last year.

Underemployed or Not Employed:

  • The national rate is 26.8%.
  • A graduate counts as underemployed when he or she in a non-professional job or employed in a short-term or part-time job.
  • A graduate counts as not employed when he or she is unemployed or pursuing an additional advanced degree.
  • 192 schools (95.5%) reported a rate of 10% or more.
    • 163 schools (81.1%) had 20% or more;
    • 129 schools (64.2%) had 25% or more;
    • 74 schools (36.8%) had 33% or more;
    • 36 schools (17.9%) had 40% or more;
    • 14 schools (7.0%) had 50% or more.
  • 30 schools (14.9%) had more underemployed and non-employed graduates than graduates employed in long-term, full-time legal jobs.
    • Last year, 24 schools qualified.
    • If we compare all long-term, full-time professional jobs (legal or not), 16 schools (8.0%) qualify.

Large Firms (at least 101 attorneys):

  • 12.9% of graduates were employed at large firms in full-time, long-term positions
    • Graduates seek these jobs partly because they tend to pay the highest salaries.
    • Note that not all of these jobs are associate positions. An unknown number are paralegals, administrators, and staff attorneys.
    • This number is up 0.7%, from 12.2% last year. These jobs are particularly unevenly distributed across law schools. Graduates from 25 schools account for over 60% of these jobs; graduates from 10 schools account for 37% of these jobs.
  • At only 63 schools (31.3%) were 10% or more graduates in these jobs.
    • 28 schools (13.9%) had 20% or more;
    • 16 schools (8.0%) had 33% or more;
    • 9 schools (4.5%) had 50% or more;
    • 2 schools (1.0%) had 60% or more.

Although the class of 2013 is the largest ever at 46,776 graduates, it was only 0.8% larger than the class of 2012. The raw number of long-term, full-time legal jobs increased slightly by 574 jobs to 26,653. If we exclude positions funded by law schools, the raw number increased by just 319 jobs to 25,878. Overall, class of 2013 job statistics indicate a flat legal job market.

The future remains grim for prospective law students. Law school enrollment was nearly 40,000 in the most recent year. The current entry-level legal market cannot support such large classes.

In addition to recent job outcome data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects only 19,650 new law jobs per year between 2012 and 2022, a number that is 10% less than an estimate two years ago that projected 21,880 new jobs per year between 2010 and 2020. That ten-year prediction was 9% less than an estimate a few years prior that projected 24,040 new lawyer jobs per year between 2008 and 2018.

These new jobs include all legal jobs, whether full-time or part-time, permanent or temporary. The BLS labor economists base occupation predictions on econometric models, together with continuous monitoring of the workplace. The macroeconomic model predictions aim to reflect how many new entrants the economy will support in each occupation. These estimates account for economic growth, structural change, retirement, and a host of other variables.

Labor market weaknesses amplify the troubling cost of obtaining a legal education in the United States. Students entering this fall (who graduate in 2017) will likely fare better on the job market. But even if every law school graduate obtained a job, the sky-high cost of legal education means that expected salaries for law school graduates threaten economic hardship. For many, it will be impossible to fulfill their student loan obligations without relying on the generosity of federal hardship programs, which Congress may greatly scale back in the near future.

The message from Law School Transparency to prospective law students remains the same: if you choose to go to law school, carefully assess the costs and the benefits. Focus on where graduates work (geographically) because 2 in 3 employed graduates work in the state in which their law school is located. Use our resources to study law school job outcomes, engage in financial planning, and negotiate the best deal you can with the law schools that can meet your career goals.

For the vast majority of prospective law students who have not received a sizable scholarship, it makes sense to wait for prices to drop further. If you decide to attend, it is essential to negotiate scholarship terms, not just the scholarship amount. You should seek to reduce or eliminate GPA or class rank stipulations, as well as to ensure that your scholarship will grow in proportion to law school tuition increases.

+ School profiles: http://www.LSTScoreReports.com/schools/.
+ Comparison charts: http://www.LSTScoreReports.com/national/.

 

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Established in 2009, Law School Transparency is a nonprofit legal education policy and watchdog organization. Our mission is to make entry to the legal profession more transparent, affordable, and fair.

Law School Graduates Continue to Face Brutal Entry-Level Market

LST has made Class of 2012 job outcome data (as of 9 months after graduation) available about the 200 ABA-approved law schools. School-specific profiles and regional comparisons can be viewed on the LST Score Reports, http://lstscorereports.com. The Score Reports are a popular law school decision tool based on employment data. They are not rankings and aid students to make decisions on a local and regional basis, rather than on a meaningless national scale.

The Class of 2012 outcome data shed considerable light on how difficult the job market remains for law school graduates. These graduates fared 1% better than last year’s graduates in lawyer jobs: 56.2% of 2012 graduates were be employed in full-time, long-term lawyer jobs. Exclude jobs funded by the law schools from this figure and it is 55.1%. A devastating 27.7% were either underemployed (short-term or part-time job, or non-professional) or not employed (unemployed or pursuing an additional degree). The national non-response rate was 2.6%.

Full-time, Long-Term Legal Jobs:

The national full-time, long-term legal rate is 56.2%.

  • These jobs
    • require bar passage or are judicial clerkships; and
    • require 35+ hours per week and have an expected duration of at least one year.
  • At 66 law schools (33.0%), less than 50% of graduates had these legal jobs.
    • 26 schools (13.0%) had less than 40%;
    • 11 schools (5.5%) had less than 33%.
  • 95 schools (47.5%) exceeded the national rate of 56.2%.
    • 50 schools (25.0%) had more than 66%;
    • 20 schools (10.0%) had more than 75%;
    • 6 schools (3.0%) had more than 90%.

Last month, the ABA agreed to further disaggregate school-funded jobs data. The new format sheds light on how many of the school-funded jobs were Bar Passaged Required, J.D. Advantage, Professional, and Non-Professional. Like last year, these categories are also broken down by whether they are full- or part-time and long- or short-term.

The national full-time, long-term legal rate, excluding school-funded jobs, is 55.1%.

  • The richest schools were able to hire their struggling graduates full time and long term; only 15 schools (7.5%) had 5% or more of their graduates in long-term, full-time, school-funded jobs that required bar passage.
    • Many of these schools were top performers on the full-time, long-term rate.
    • Excluding the school-funded jobs from this rate caused five of the six schools over 90% to drop below that threshold; two of those five dropped below 80%.

Underemployed or Not Employed:

  • The national rate is 27.7%.
  • A graduate counts as underemployed when he or she in a non-professional job or employed in a short-term or part-time job.
  • A graduate counts as not employed when he or she is unemployed or pursuing an additional advanced degree.
  • 187 schools (93.5%) reported a rate greater than 10%.
    • 153 schools (76.5%) had more than 20%;
    • 112 schools (56.0%) had more than 25%;
    • 58 schools (29.0%) had more than 33%;
    • 27 schools (13.5%) had more than 40%;
    • 8 schools (4.0%) had more than 50%.
  • 24 schools had more underemployed and non-employed graduates than graduates employed in long-term, full-time legal jobs.

Large Firms (at least 101 attorneys):

  • 12.2% of graduates were employed at large firms in full-time, long-term positions
    • Graduates seek these jobs partly because they tend to pay the highest salaries.
    • Note that not all of these jobs are associate positions. An unknown number are paralegals, administrators, and staff attorneys.
  • At only 51 schools (25.5%) were more than 10% in these jobs.
    • 27 schools (13.5%) had more than 20%;
    • 14 schools (7.0%) had more than 33%;
    • 8 schools (4.0%) had more than over 50%.

Despite 2012 graduates taking 2,000 more long-term, full-time legal jobs than 2011 graduates, the percentage improvement was just 1% because there were 5.4% more 2012 graduates than in 2011. The Class of 2012 does not represent the apex for new J.D.’s either; only after the class of 2013 will the number of graduates drop, though the total still looks to be in substantial disproportion to the number of jobs available in our quickly evolving profession.

The students entering this fall (who graduate in 2016) will likely fare better on the job market because fewer prospective students are deciding to take the LSAT, to apply to law school, and to attend now that post-graduation realities are transparent. But even if every law school graduate obtained a job, the sky-high cost of legal education means that expected salaries for law school graduates portend economic hardship. For many, it will be impossible to fulfill their student loan obligations without gambling on the continuation of federal hardship programs.

Law School Transparency’s executive director, Kyle McEntee, urged caution to students planning to enroll this fall. McEntee said, “Law school is too expensive relative to job outcomes. If you plan to debt-finance your education or use hard-earned savings, seriously think twice about attending a law school without a steep discount. For the vast majority of prospective law students who have not received a sizable scholarship, it makes sense to wait for prices to drop.”

+ School profiles: http://www.lstscorereports.com/?r=schools.
+ Comparison charts: http://www.lstscorereports.com/?r=other.

Established in 2009, Law School Transparency is a nonprofit legal education policy organization. Our mission is to improve consumer information and reform the traditional law school model. We operate independently of any legal institutions, legal employers, or academic reports related to the legal market.

Law School Transparency releases annual index of law school disclosure

The Transparency Index reflects Law School Transparency’s review of law school websites, through which we analyze the employment information that law schools use to market their programs. We measure not only whether law schools meet voluntary transparency standards, but also whether they meet the requirements from ABA Standard 509.

Our project has three important parts:

During the initial review period, we found that 78.4% (156/199) of ABA-approved law schools were not meeting the expectations set forth by Standard 509. We contacted ever school’s dean, admissions office, and career services office with an offer to help them meet our criteria. 102 law schools took us up on our offer, and to date 84 of these schools have updated the consumer information on their websites.

See also:

New Alternative to U.S. News Law School Rankings

Today, Law School Transparency announces an alternative to the U.S. News law school rankings: The LST Score Reports.

LST has developed the Score Reports in an effort to produce a tool to help prospective students make application and enrollment decisions, keeping in mind that each person has a different risk tolerance, financial situation, and set of career aspirations.

The Score Reports are user-friendly tools for sorting law school employment outcomes, projected costs, and admissions stats. There is a Score Report for every state (includes only schools that place graduates there), every school (called a profile), and job types. They measure job outcomes, use a regional scope, and use real terms about the outcomes to allow prospective students to make an educated decision about not just which school to attend, but whether any school happens to meet their needs.

The Score Reports are not rankings, although they do serve as an alternative to conventional law school rankings. But unlike rankings, the Score Reports do not reduce complex data to a single metric. Instead, the Score Reports focus on observable relationships to specific legal markets and job types. Only a small handful of schools have a truly national reach in job placement. The rest have a regional, in-state, or even just local reach. A decision tool should not obfuscate this reality; it should embrace it.

You can view the Score Reports, and read more about them, by following these links:

The Score Reports: http://www.lstscorereports.com
Guide to Using the Score Reports: http://www.lstscorereports.com/?r=guides&show=12
The Value of the U.S. News rankings: http://www.lstscorereports.com/?r=guides&show=13
Methodology, Published in the Journal of Legal Metrics: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2106814

Founded in 2009, Law School Transparency is a nonprofit legal education policy organization dedicated to improving consumer information and to reforming the traditional law school model. LST and its administrators operate independently of any legal institutions, legal employers, or academic reports related to the legal market. The LST Score Reports are a new project from LST Reform Central.

Breaking: Ex-CSO assistant director from Thomas Jefferson admits to fraud, alleges deliberate scheme by law school

In a sworn statement, Karen Grant, a former career services assistant director at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, admits that she fabricated graduate employment outcomes for the class of 2006. Grant alleges that her fraud was part of a deliberate scheme by the law school’s administration to inflate its employment statistics. She also claims that her direct supervisor, Laura Weseley, former Director of Career Services, instructed her on multiple occasions to improperly record graduate employment outcomes and justified the scheme because “everybody does it” thus “it is no big deal.” TJSL could face sanctions from the American Bar Association as severe as losing accreditation.

Grant was Assistant Director of Career Services at TJSL from September 2006 to September 2007, during which she was tasked with tracking and recording employment outcomes of recent graduates. Grant is a licensed California attorney and made her sworn declaration on August 2, 2012 in connection to the class action lawsuit filed by Anna Alaburda, et al. against TJSL in 2011. (Complaint; Original Story.) Grant’s statement was filed in court last week in connection to Alaburda’s motion for sanctions.

Specifically, Grant admits that she “routinely recorded currently unemployed students as ‘employed’ if they had been employed at any time since graduation,” which is a violation of both ABA and NALP reporting guidelines. Graduates should only be recorded as employed if they are employed as of February Exhibit B, A handwritten note by Karen Grant from a meeting with Laura Weseley on Oct. 16, 2006. 15 following graduation.

Grant’s admitted actions likely mean that TJSL violated ABA Standard 509 and Interpretation 509-3. Possible sanctions under Rule 16 for violating Standard 509 include monetary penalty, censure, probation, and losing accreditation.

Paul Campos, professor of law at the University of Colorado Law School, says that “the ABA ought to be pursuing an investigation vigorously.” He continued, “if the ABA is at all serious about transparency, they will have to crack down on this.” The ABA is preparing its public comments, which will be available shortly. (Update: see below for ABA comments.)

In addition to her own admission, Grant alleges that Weseley, her then-boss, instructed her to misrecord graduate employment outcomes and justified the actions based on a belief that such practices were widespread throughout the legal education community. From Ms. Grant’s testimony (emphasis added):

4. … I was instructed to “probe” graduates because “they may say no,” meaning that graduates may indicate they were currently unemployed and I therefore needed to ask whether they had been employed any time prior to graduation.

5. … Ms. Weseley instructed me to “update ERSS prior to Feb if [unemployed] & become [employed] but not vice-versa.” … I expressed my concern at the time that it did not seem right to update graduates’ employment data only if the graduate became employed, but not if they became unemployed.

Grant continues by explaining her data recording process and Weseley’s alleged influence on it:

6. Ms. Weseley later reiterated that, when talking to students, I was to first ask if they were currently employed. If the graduate indicated he or she was not currently employed, I would then inquire whether he or she was employed at any time after graduation. If the graduate indicated he or she was employed at any time after graduation (even though currently unemployed), I was instructed to record the graduate as “employed” in TJSL’s Excel software.

7. I again expressed my concern and told Ms. Weseley that it not seem right to report currently unemployed students as “employed” merely because they had been employed at some point after graduation. Ms. Weseley responded by saying “it is no big deal, everybody does it.”

8. I followed Ms. Weseley’s instructions. I routinely recorded currently unemployed students as “employed” if they had been employed at any time since graduation. As a result, the employment data that I entered into the Excel files included currently unemployed students who were inaccurately categorized as “employed.”

It is the nature of the process that schools do not follow up with certain graduates before submitting data to NALP by the end of February. Schools begin collecting post-graduation job outcome data shortly before graduation and continue through the February 15 reporting deadline. Once a school knows that a graduate has a job, career services staffers will often cease follow-ups because they believe their time is better spent elsewhere.

However, Grant alleges that the accepted practice in the TJSL career services office, at least during her tenure, went beyond cherry picking which students to follow up with. She alleges that she participated in a scheme that guaranteed that TJSL’s employment stats would be better than the reality by affirmatively ignoring new, true, and proper outcomes of graduates whose jobs were terminated or ran their course before the reporting deadline. Grant admits that TJSL submitted false information to NALP, U.S. News, and the American Bar Association as a result of her counting as employed at nine-months any student who was employed at any time after graduation regardless of whether they had a job at that time.

A look at the statistics TJSL reported to the ABA for the class of 2006 confirms that the numbers from Grant’s spreadsheet, Exhibit D of her declaration, were submitted to the ABA. These numbers were not submitted to the ABA until after her termination in September 2007.

In an email to LST, Rudy Hasl, dean of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, questioned Grant’s reliability, disputing the accuracy of her sworn testimony and her motivations. “The law school stands behind the accuracy of the data that we submitted to the American Bar Association.” Sources report that Grant was terminated in 2007, though when asked for clarification, Dean Hasl would not comment on internal personnel matters beyond suggesting that LST “do a due diligence analysis … including the reasons for her departure from the School of Law.”

Grant’s admission marks the first on-the-record account of a law school administrator falsifying employment data. It remains to be seen whether she was a rogue employee, or whether there was a deliberate scheme by the law school to inflate the appearance of its employment outcomes. Nevertheless, her allegations of a culture within American legal education where fraudulent reporting is a legitimate strategy are sure to reignite concerns about the quality of data that schools report, how schools present data to the public, and whether the current level of public investment in legal education is appropriate in light of this culture.

UPDATE: Comment from ABA

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar is fully committed to ensuring that law schools comply with the letter and spirit of the Standards for Approval of Law Schools and all reporting requirements. We take seriously our responsibilities for collecting and disseminating law school data, including employment data.

The actions of a few schools have called into question the integrity of all. As a consequence, the Section has been called upon to play a greater role in investigating possible non-compliance with our rules and in sanctioning non-complying schools. We regularly follow up on reports and other communications regarding possible non-compliance with the Standards that come to our attention.

Under our rules, all matters concerning the accreditation of an individual school must be confidential. Thus, we cannot comment on the matter that is now being reported. Given the confidentiality requirement, no one should assume that a matter has not been, or is not being, addressed.

Last year, in an effort to increase clarity, accuracy and accountability in the reporting of employment data, the Section began requiring law schools to report employment data directly to the Section; in the past, schools reported this information to NALP. We have established detailed definitions and instructions for the reporting of employment data. The Section is fully committed to the clarity and accuracy of law school placement data. By vigorously enforcing the Standard that requires fair and accurate reporting of consumer information, and by having law schools report more comprehensive, specific consumer information, as a result, those students who choose to enter law school will be better informed about the prospects for employment than ever before.

UPDATE: Context of Court Filing

LST received a copy of the evidence as it was filed last Thursday by Anna Alaburda’s attorneys. It was filed in connection to her latest motion, a motion for sanctions.

LST Requests Class of 2011 NALP Reports

Following our success in collecting NALP reports from schools last year, we are asking schools to now make their reports for the class of 2011 available.

For the class of 2010, we managed to collect 50 NALP reports. These reports helped us expand our data clearinghouse so that we could become the place to go for the most thorough and easy-to-compare employment information. This year, our goal is to double the number of reports we collect.

Even with the improvements to law school transparency, thanks to immense pressure on the ABA, these reports contain helpful data that schools are not required to be make public.

  • Salary Data (aggregated in categories)
  • Job Source (e.g., OCI, networking, direct mailings)
  • Job Offer Timing (before graduation, before bar results, after bar results)
  • Job Status (employed graduates who are still seeking or not seeking)
  • Job Region and Job States
  • Job Type Breakdowns by Employer Type (e.g., government JD Advantage)

Check out Seattle University School of Law’s Class of 2011 NALP report, which the school sent to us unprompted, to see what schools have to offer this year.

We hope that schools share our sense of urgency and help us put comparable employment information into the hands of consumers. Check out the full letter after the jump.

Continue reading LST Requests Class of 2011 NALP Reports

Class of 2011 legal employment and underemployment numbers are in, and far worse than expected

LST’s Press Release:

Mister Hart, here is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer.
– Kingsfield, The Paper Chase

The ABA has released Class of 2011 job outcome data for all domestic ABA-approved law schools. The data are far more granular than ever before. Law School Transparency has analyzed the data and made the school-specific data available on its website for easy comparison.

The ABA data shed considerable light on how poorly the 2011 graduates fared. We can now say with certainty that the employment picture is far worse than previously reported. Only 55.2% of all graduates were known to be employed in full-time, long-term legal jobs. A devastating 26.4% of all graduates were underemployed.

According to the ABA data from 195 law schools:

Full-time, Long-Term Legal Jobs:

  • These jobs require bar passage or are judicial clerkships and are for at least 35 hours per week and have an expected duration of at least one year.
  • The national full-time, long-term legal rate is 55.2%.
  • At 73 law schools (37.1%), less than 50% of graduates had these legal jobs.
    • 30 schools (15.2%) had less than 40%
    • 10 schools (5.1%) had less than a 33%
  • 89 schools (45.2%) exceeded the national rate of 55.2%.
    • 31 schools (15.7%) had more than 67%
    • 19 schools (9.6%) had more than 75%
    • 5 schools (2.5%) had more than 90%

Underemployed:

  • We define a graduate as underemployed when he or she is “Unemployed – Seeking”, pursuing an additional advanced degree, in a non-professional job, or employed in a short-term or part-time job.
  • The national underemployment rate is 26.4%.
  • 180 schools (91.4%) reported a rate greater than 10%.
    • 144 schools (73.1%) had more than 20%
    • 109 schools (55.3%) had more than 25%
    • 57 schools (28.9%) had more than 33%
    • 20 schools (10.2%) had more than 40%

Large Firms (at least 101 attorneys):

  • 10.7% of graduates were employed at large firms in full-time, long-term positions
    • Graduates seek these jobs in part because they’re the jobs that tend to pay the highest salaries.
  • At only 45 schools (22.8%) were more than 10% in these jobs.
    • 20 schools (10.2%) had more than 20%
    • 15 schools (5.6%) had more than 33%
    • Only 3 schools were over 50% – Columbia, Northwestern, and Penn.

Law School Transparency’s executive director, Kyle McEntee, urged caution to students planning to enroll this fall. McEntee said, “Law school still costs way too much money compared to post-graduation employment outcomes. If you plan to debt-finance your education or use your hard-earned savings, seriously think twice about attending a law school without a steep discount. For the vast majority of prospective law students who have not received an extensive scholarship, it will make sense to wait for prices to drop.”

There has been some speculation that the class of 2011 may represent the bottom, though this view is grounded more in optimism than evidence. Rather, evidence points to a structural shift in legal employment, especially at the entry-level, that signals a new normal far below pre-recession levels. Technology, globalization, and law firm strategies are substantially changing our profession.

To view every ABA-approved law school’s profile, visit http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/clearinghouse/.

To view comparison charts, visit http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/clearinghouse/?show=compare&sub=jobs

Established in 2009, Law School Transparency is a nonprofit legal education policy organization. Our mission is to improve consumer information and to usher in consumer-oriented reforms to the current law school model. We operate independently of any legal institutions, legal employers, or academic reports related to the legal market.